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A rare glimpse into J.R.R Tolkien’s world

Intimate photographs and letters providing a rare glimpse into J.R.R Tolkien’s secretive world have been sold for almost £40,000.   

The archive of images showing the Lord of the Rings author relaxing in his study and in his garden with his wife Edith were taken by society photographer Pamela Chandler – whose reputation led to photographic commissions from celebrities, royalty and major literary publishers during the 1960s.

The collection includes an image of Tolkien in his study with his own hand-drawn map of Middle Earth where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy was set.

Also among the archive are notebooks kept by Ms Chandler in which she described the Tolkiens as the ‘most adorable people you could care to meet and I can never think of one without the other.’

Among the intimate images that have been sold was one showing J.R.R Tolkien sat in his study with his own hand-drawn map of Middle Earth where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy was set

The candid photograph providing a rare glimpse into J.R.R Tolkien's secretive world were taken by society photographer Pamela Chandler - whose reputation led to photographic commissions from celebrities, royalty and major literary publishers during the 1960s

The candid photograph providing a rare glimpse into J.R.R Tolkien’s secretive world were taken by society photographer Pamela Chandler – whose reputation led to photographic commissions from celebrities, royalty and major literary publishers during the 1960s

The collection included a group of 64 colour and black and white negatives for the original two shoots of the writer which fetched £18,000

The collection included a group of 64 colour and black and white negatives for the original two shoots of the writer which fetched £18,000

In 1961, Ms Chandler was tasked with producing professional portrait photos for the famously camera-shy writer.

She was soon able to win him over and became firm friends with Tolkien and his wife for the rest of their lives.

In 1966 she was invited back to their home in Oxfordshire to take candid photos of the devoted couple.

One of her prints that sold for £760 shows Tolkien in his study with his own hand-drawn map of Middle Earth. 

Meanwhile a group of 64 colour and black and white negatives for the original two shoots fetched for £18,000.

The negatives were sold with copyright, meaning the successful buyer will receive a regular commission every time they are published.

Ms Chandler died in 1993 and her archive of prints, negatives and related correspondence were passed to her sister before it was put up for sale with Reeman Dansie Auctioneers of Colchester, Essex.

The correspondence that Ms Chandler kept includes signed letters she received from both Tolkien and his wife.

One of the letters from the author giving his feedback on the photos for the shoot in his study in 1961 sold for £4,400. 

The archive of images show the Lord of the Rings author relaxing in his study (right) and in his garden with his wife Edith (left)

The archive of images show the Lord of the Rings author relaxing in his study (right) and in his garden with his wife Edith (left)

Ms Chandler was tasked with producing professional portrait photos for the famously camera-shy writer in 1961 and was soon able to win him over

Ms Chandler was tasked with producing professional portrait photos for the famously camera-shy writer in 1961 and was soon able to win him over

Among the images, which have now sold for £40,000, was one showing the famous writer, standing in his garden in 1966

Among the images, which have now sold for £40,000, was one showing the famous writer, standing in his garden in 1966

Also among the archive are letters written by the Lord of the Rings author to the photographer Pamela Chandler

Also among the archive are letters written by the Lord of the Rings author to the photographer Pamela Chandler

Ms Chandler died in 1993 and her archive of prints, negatives and related correspondence were passed to her sister before it was put up for sale with Reeman Dansie Auctioneers of Colchester, Essex

Ms Chandler died in 1993 and her archive of prints, negatives and related correspondence were passed to her sister before it was put up for sale with Reeman Dansie Auctioneers of Colchester, Essex

The letter is said to contain a ‘delightful Tolkienism’ where he tells the photographer he hopes she is ‘catching up arrows’.

A second later, dated 1967, which demonstrates his desire for privacy sold for £2,800. In it he is clearly riled by a newspaper article as he tells Ms Chandler how he resented the ‘impertinent intrusion into my privacy’ and that he could ‘stand no more of this nonsense.’

Daniel Wright, of Reeman Dansie Auctioneers, said: ‘Pamela Chandler blazed a trail in the then male dominated world of professional photography.

‘The archive is complete and spans her entire career, but the Tolkien work is the most interesting material because he was such a private man who didn’t like publicity or being photographed.

‘She befriended him and his wife and became his photographer of choice.

‘Tolkien letters are extremely desirable as they don’t come on the market very often.

The archive also included notebooks kept by Pamela in which she described the Tolkiens as the ‘most adorable people you could care to meet and I can never think of one without the other.’

Tolkien, who had a holiday home in Poole, Dorset, died in 1973 at the age of 81 and Edith died in 1971 aged 82. 

Who was JRR Tolkien? The Oxford professor who fought in the Somme and wrote the Hobbit 

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa 1892 and moved to England when he was four. 

He grew up in Sarehole, in Birmingham, and went on to became a Professor at Oxford University where he studied Old and Middle English.

While working at the university, Tolkien invented languages of his own. But when World War I broke out, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the Battle of the Somme.

He was eventually released from duty due to illness.

When he returned to Oxford after the war he penned a line about a ‘hobbit’ while grading a paper. 

The line went on to become one of his most famous works, The Hobbit novel, and he later wrote The Lord of the Rings series.

The books contained stories from a fantasy land partially inspired by ancient European myths. The world had its own sets of maps, lore and its own unique language.    

He called it Middle-earth and the world was peopled by men, elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins and hobbits.

The Hobbit was published in 1937, before his famous trilogy. 

Part one of the series, The Fellowship of the Ring was published in 1954, while The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in 1955.  

Tolkien had four children, three sons and a daughter, who all carried on his legacy after his death on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81. 

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